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Live Large Locally, on Small Business Saturday

Support LGBT Small Businesses

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Size matters — and when it comes to shopping local, small is the preference we can all agree on.

So plan now to rock the mom-and-pop look, by saving some of your Black Friday energy, and bucks, for the day after. That’s when many of West Hollywood’s trove of retailers and restaurants will be offering a slew of treasures. Think discounts, free products, giveaways, gift cards, delicious food samples, and more.

November 24’s Small Business Saturday isn’t just a way to feel good about supporting the neighborhood merchants who rescue us from poorly decorated box stores and cookie cutter corporate brands. It’s a way to check a multitude of boxes off your holiday shopping list, while helping the community you’ve shown up to support spread that love in a very tangible way.

Here’s how that happens: Many of the businesses participating in Small Business Saturday will be giving a portion of their proceeds to a worthy cause, noted Genevieve Morrill, President and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce (WHCC). In years past, that amount has passed the 20k mark, benefitting recipients such as the Foundation for The AIDS Monument. This year, donations will be made to the City of West Hollywood Homeless Initiative, which, the Chamber notes, “seeks to effectively address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response,’ by targeting “the problems of homeless LGBTQ youth, as well as homelessness generally.”

Along with the WHCC and the City of West Hollywood, American Express is on board for the Nov. 24 event, having chosen WeHo as a city of focus. So while you might see a variety of logos on signage, what it really means, for you, is celebrity sightings and sweet, sweet swag. Visit wehochamber.com/shopsmall for a full list of participating stores. Here’s a primer to get you started.

At 1:00 PM, at Fred Segal Sunset (8500 Sunset Blvd.), “Criminal Minds” star Kirsten Vangsness will be sharing holiday gifting ideas. Segal will gift shoppers with cloth tote bags, beauty samples, coffee, and espressos, Other stores on site will also be providing enticing incentives. Fred Segal CEO Allie Samek gave us the scoop on two items that calmed us down, during a pre-Thanksgiving, “What do I give to the hard-to-shop-for?” tizzy. Priced at $480, the 100 percent cashmere sweater is an exclusive item, from the Hartel (men’s store) label. “This is for your fashionable guy,” Samek said. “It’s not too boxy, and not too short — with a slim fit. It’s the best cashmere sweater you’ve ever seen.”

No need to bother Samek with proof of that claim. Send a picture of your fashionable self or significant other, wearing the sweater, and whatever else (if anything else) they’re modeling, to the publisher and editor of this fine publication: [email protected]. Disclaimer: All photos are fodder for his “tasteful is in the eye of the beholder” holiday card. If you and/or Mr. Masters are all hot and bothered by viewing that cashmere pin-up pix, Samek has the perfect treatment: Refresh with a sip or two of cool, clear, H2O. The Boss Babe Crystal Water Bottle ($160) can be found in the Tesoro gift store. Within its casing are 24-karat gold flakes and citrine stone (whose very proximity to the water, Samek playfully said, “manifests abundance, and will amplify everything you desire.”). And if that claim stops short of manifesting a winning lottery ticket, at least you’ll be properly hydrated.

Elsewhere in WeHo, at NARS (8412 Melrose Ave.), enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne and a Focus Feature demo with a boutique artist, and then walk away with giveaways, including travel-size products and full-size lip products. The Barber Surgeons Guild (805 Larrabee St.) is offering special prices for grooming and clinical services throughout the day. Call 310-975-7094 for details, and to schedule an appointment. Do drop by IV Drip Doctors Vitamin Therapy & Regenerative Center (8489 Sunset Blvd.), but don’t tell them to “just open a vein” — at least when it comes to claiming your energy-boosting booty. That will require prep time to administer. So take away a free, B12 IV gift card and return another day to experience this unique form of vitamin therapy.

 

Food, of course, is always bragging about its status as an iconic, old school energy delivery method. Small Business Saturday swag gives you a good excuse to pay your respects, by stopping by Yogurt Stop (8803 Santa Monica Blvd.), for 10 percent off. At Le Pain Quotidien (8607 Melrose Ave), scoop up free samples of cider and pumpkin muffins; and, at Cafe D’Etoile (8941 ½ Santa Monica Boulevard), you’ll get a complimentary, house-made, individual-size key lime pie. At 4:00 PM, at Tom Tom Restaurant & Bar (8932 Santa Monica Blvd.), Lisa Vanderpump hosts an open house, where mixers and minglers can sip a signature cocktail made just for the event.

In the midst of shopping for others, and feeding yourself, take some time to take care of the body beautiful. Unplug Meditation (8500 Melrose Ave., Suite 201) will give you 20 percent off their $35 introductory offer, which allows you to take an unlimited number of classes, for two weeks. They’re also offering 20 percent off 5, 10, and 20-class packages. LYMBR (603 North West Knoll Drive) makes it easy to shake loose your purse strings, by providing $20 off a stretch session.

From 2017’s Shop Small Saturday: Bruce Vilanch, at Capitol Drugs and Power Zone. This year’s celebrity participants include Lisa Vanderpump and Kirsten Vangsness. (Photo by Jon Viscott, courtesy of WHCC)

In addition to salivating over anticipating the above savings and swag, we spoke with the men behind two of Saturday’s participating businesses, to find out what makes their product tick, and why they feel a special connection to West Hollywood.

JustFoodForDogs

Men can be real dogs. But when it comes to the four-legged variety, that’s a high compliment. As such, we want only the best for them: beef, chicken, rice, lamb, venison, and potatoes of the sweet and russet variety — and no gluten or preservatives. Sounds like your own dinner menu? That’s the point, says JustFoodForDogs founder Shawn Buckley.

“Everybody wants to buy local, and it doesn’t get any more local than 20 feet away,” noted Buckley, of the WeHo branch, which houses a kitchen where good stuff for good doggies is dished up daily, every day of the year. “It’s not like a show, where we act like we’re making it,” Buckley said of the kitchen. “We’re open to the public from 10 to 8, but we’re in there from around 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM.”

The WeHo branch is the second of what now numbers over 70. “We are thrilled to be there,” Buckley boasted. “It helped us launch our business, and it’s a hugely successful location for us. There are certain neighborhoods that are just incredibly dog-friendly, and this is one of them. West Hollywood helped us prove the concept.”

The JustFoodForDogs concept is a simple one, based on a new trick Buckley brought to an old industry. “When I found out what was allowed to be in dog food,” he recalled,” I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m feeding my dogs that.’ It’s not just gross, it’s unhealthy.” Typical supermarket chow, no matter how high the quality, he noted, “is from the Midwest. We use a Los Angeles-based company that sells us produce and protein. West Coast Prime Meats sells us chicken, fish, beef, and lamb that’s all human-grade. We’re the only deliver they make that is not a restaurant, theme park, or hotel.” — giving credence to their motto, “It is food for dogs… not dog food!”

Small Business Saturday pet parents can see for themselves on Nov. 24. Right in time for holiday party hosting season, the WeHo location will be offering free cooking lessons, to lean how to make safe, organic, healthy treats for your pets. Emmy-winning NBC4 anchor and reporter Robert Kovacik (Woof!) will also be appearing at the store, at 2:30 PM, to cook up gourmet food recipes with the store’s chef.

Your hyperlocal JustFoodForDogs destination is 7870 Santa Monica Blvd. (corner of Fairfax). Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Sun., 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Call 323-471-4242 or visit justfoodfordogs.com.

Rounderbum

Yes, it’s true: The holidays can leave some of us feeling as if we lack support; that nobody in the world has our back. But what about those of us who go through the whole year feeling as if the whole world can see we have no backside? To the rescue is “Shark Tank” success story Rounderbum — a clever, downright cheeky, line of men’s shapewear that not only understands your pain, it knows how to define it. Or, more accurately, give it appearance-altering lifts and tucks.

Asked about the Rounderbum mission, CEO Jonathan Diersing said he co-founded the company to help those who “can’t gain muscle mass” back there and, as such, “have not butt — and their pants fall down.” Rounderbum’s booty-enhancing magic bullet gives your look something extra that no mere belt is capable of, and something else that comes from within: “Our mission is to enhance your body in the areas you desire most, helping you look and feel amazing before walking out the front door,” Diersing said, adding, “We are not only changing the way people look, we are changing the way people live.”

For the Nov. 24 event, they’re also changing their prices: For in-store purchases of $100 or more, Diersing noted, “We will be giving each customer one free underwear from our all-new sister underwear company, Rounderwear.” To check out those undies, visit rounderwear.com, where they are “#MUGA: Making Underwear Great Again!” Also in-store and online, Black Friday heralds the start of “the best sale we’ve ever had,” Diersing vowed, and “the most percentage off we’ve ever offered — up to 50 percent off and more.”

And those discounts arrive not a moment too soon, for those of us who might have given in to temptation at the Thanksgiving table — and the buffet tables to come, from now until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Compression clothing is also part of the product line. “A popular one around this season,” Diersing said, “is a boxer brief with a waist slimmer band built into it. Let’s say you’re wearing a sweater. Sometimes the love handles stick out. This will smooth it all out for you. And the muscle shirt is good, because it has padding on the shirt, and keeps you warm. Our compression tops acts as a layer. It keeps your body heat inside, and firms up your belly — or whatever you might have, that you want to tighten up a little bit.”

Judging from the photos sent to us, the tastes of LGBT consumers are always on the mind, at Rounderbum. Diersing name-checked “authenticity and acceptance” as qualities the company admires most about its queer customers — and that this desirable demographic appreciates “all forms of expression and creativity… There is so much love in the community, and that love transcends within the very core of our company and values.”

But why West Hollywood? “With Beverly Hills being the cosmetic surgery capital of the world,” Diersing observed, “it only seemed natural for us to be here and offer an affordable alternative to body enhancement. Being in such an influential, iconic city constantly serves as a reminder of where we came from, and how much further we have to go. This city inspires us to want to make a real difference for all people — one booty at a time.”

Rounderbum is located at 802 N. San Vicente Blvd. Hours: Noon to 8:00 PM, daily. Call 424-278-1114 or visit rounderbum.com.

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Events

Portrait of a Festival on Fire, AFI Fest returns with live screenings

AFI Fest returns this year with live screenings—and a roster that’s typically chock full of queer breakout films

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Courtesy of the American Film Institute's AFI Fest

By Dan Allen | LOS ANGELES – Like most things last year, L.A.’s most prestigious mainstream film festival AFI Fest was forced to go virtual—but it still managed to include what proved to be some of the year’s most critically lauded gay films, including I Carry You With Me and Uncle Frank. The fest’s prior incarnation in 2019 served up one of the most acclaimed and popular lesbian movies in recent memory, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

So it’s no surprise that as AFI Fest pivots back this year to a pando-transitional screening hybrid of virtual and in-person at the Chinese Theatres in Hollywood, the five-day lineup is once again crowded with LGBTQ+-themed excellence from the U.S. and across the globe. Safety protocols will of course be in effect—but for the squeamish, the anti-social, or the just plain lazy, a virtual (albeit more limited) AFI Fest schedule will again be available for 2021. 

Whether you choose live or virtual, here are our picks for this year’s queer (and -ish) flicks not to miss at AFI Fest, which runs November 10 to 14.

tick, tick… BOOM! 

Opening AFI Fest this year is the world premiere of the hotly-awaited adaptation of John Larson’s autobiographical musical, starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda in his feature debut. Larson was of course the creator of the theatrical phenomenon Rent, and tick, tick… BOOM! is its origin story, as struggling New York City composer Larson responds to the pressures of life and the ravages of the AIDS epidemic. (Screening live with Red Carpet Premiere at TCL Chinese, November 10, 7:30pm)

The Power of the Dog

One of the buzziest films to come out of this year’s Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals is the latest from Jane Campion, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as a deeply closeted gay cowboy in 1925 Montana whose repression manifests itself in the sadistic intimidation of his brother’s new wife and her teenage son. (Screening live with Red Carpet Premiere at TCL Chinese, November 10, 7:30pm)

Great Freedom (Grosse Freiheit)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLQZoNZEOVU
Austria’s official submission for next year’s Best International Feature Film Oscar and a jury prize winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Great Freedom tells the story of irrepressible German homosexual Hans Hoffmann (Franz Rogowski) through several decades, from his wartime imprisonment for repeatedly breaking Nazi Germany’s antigay Paragraph 175 law, and post-war following his life, loves and an unexpected friendship. (Screening live at Chinese 3, November 14, 4pm)

Petite Maman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdORAHCydyY
While not technically LGBTQ+-themed, Petite Maman is director Céline Sciamma’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to her wildly popular period lesbian romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire. In this film, Sciamma (who also directed 2011’s Tomboy) returns to the themes of childhood and family: Eight-year-old Nelly has just lost her grandmother, and while exploring the woods near the matriarch’s home, she meets another little girl with striking parallels to her mother. (Screening virtually beginning November 11; screening live at Chinese 1, November 13, 1:15 pm)

Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades, Paris 13e)

Another film with a strong Portrait of a Lady on Fire connection is this French graphic novel adaptation starring Noémie Merlant (Portrait painter Marianne) as Nora, whose new life in Paris is complicated when she’s mistaken for a cam girl. Céline Sciamma also collaborated on the script here, which features a tapestry of love stories including that of free-spirited Émilie and her new roommate Camille. (Screening virtually beginning November 11; screening live at Chinese 1, November 11, 8:15pm) 

Bernstein’s Wall

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSodXElSVTQ
Composer and social justice warrior Leonard Bernstein tells his life story in his own words, artfully pieced together here from many interviews conducted throughout his career, and augmented by segments from his letters, as published in the award-winning 2013 book The Leonard Bernstein Letters. (Screening live with director Douglas Tirola in attendance at Chinese 4, November 12, 3:15pm)

The Girl and the Spider

An award winner at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s film focuses on the interpersonal relationships and behavioral cues surrounding a young Swiss woman, Lisa, as she moves out of the apartment she’s shared with Mara, who’s clearly been more than just her friend. (Screening live along with a conversation with directors Ramon and Silvan Zürcher at Chinese 3, November 14, 1pm)

Wildhood 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSodXElSVTQ
Seen here in its American debut, Wildhood follows Two-Spirit Mi’kmaw teenager Link as he sets off with his younger half-brother Travis in a search for Link’s long-lost mother. Along the way they meet Pasmay, another young Mi’kmaw Two-Spirit, and what had at first seemed bleak for Link evolves into a beautiful journey of discovery about family, origins, identity and young love. (Screening live with producers Gharrett Paon and Damon D’Oliveira in attendance at Chinese 3, November 13, 4pm)

AFI Fest 2021’s numerous shorts programs will also be peppered with LGBTQ+-themed goodness. Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker looks at the coded advertisements created by the legendary but closeted gay illustrator. In Israel’s Her Dance, estranged transwoman Aya surprises her Orthodox Jewish family by showing up for Shabbat. From Puerto Rico comes Mano Santa, in which a grandfather briefly harbors his runaway grandson after he’s fled home. In Boys of a Certain Age, a teenager faces danger and excitement during a weekend of self-discovery with his best friend. Set in Cyprus, A Summer Place follows Tina on her birthday, as a chance encounter stops her from giving up everything.
And a couple of LGBTQ+ film icons will be representing at AFI Fest this year, albeit in non-queer titles, in the form of Pedro Almodóvar’s latest Parallel Mothers (starring Penelope Cruz and longtime Almodóvar muse Rossy de Palma), and the arty and meditative Memoria, in which Tilda Swinton plays a Scottish orchid farmer visiting Colombia who struggles to make sense of the sudden-onset sound that only she can hear.

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West Hollywood Halloween Events 2021

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Courtesy of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has released its annual Halloween events guide available here.

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Project Angel Food’s 2021 Telethon raises $1.1 million

Project Angel Food is thankful to have received support from friends and the community providing the funding needed to sustain their service

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Eric McCormack led a toast, lifting a glass with all the stars in studio to Chef Randy (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

HOLLYWOOD – Los Angeles charity Project Angel Food succeeded in raising $1,126,090 far surpassing their fundraising goal of $800,000 in their 2021 Telethon which aired on KTLA 5 Saturday evening. The Telethon, LEAD WITH LOVE 2021 was presented by City National Bank.

Hosted by by Will & Grace star Eric McCormack and KTLA anchor Jessica Holmes along with Loni Love and Alec Mapa as co-hosts, the evening broadcast opened with a surprise greeting from British Rockstar musician Ringo Starr.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and Project Angel Food is thankful to have received so much support from friends and the community and providing the funding needed to sustain the expanded service to those in need, preparing and delivering over one million medically tailored meals to our most vulnerable neighbors.  Project Angel Food Executive Director Richard Ayoub said, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and inspiration.  The success of this tells me Los Angeles is with us every step of the way.”

A good deal of celebrity star power helped to boost the donations which were taken in by phone, online, and text. Loni Love, author, and host of The Real, presented her $25,000 winnings from her recent appearance on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud. Her donation joined that of actor Jamie Lee Curtis who called in live via Skype, made a $10,000 gift from her family foundation.

The Herb Ritts Foundation offered a “match challenge” of $75,000, agreeing to match donations coming in over an hour up to $75,000. The match was reached in just 27 minutes.

Other big donors for the night included: $50,000 each from Susanna Blinkoff & Jordan Corngold, Connie Frank, and Mary Fisher; $30,000 National Rongxiang Xu Foundation & Human Heritage Project; $26,000 from Michael J. Libow; $25,000 from Stanley and Joyce Black Family Foundation, Block Party WeHo, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, WEN Hair and Body Care by Chaz Dean, Whole Foods Market, and Main Street Catering…and our thanks to everyone who donated! 

A special Tribute was paid to Chef Randy Nakamura, who died from COVID this past year, by celebrity chefs Cat Cora and Stuart O’Keeffe, and actor Brad Garrett, who met Chef Randy at Project Angel Food.  Eric McCormack then led a toast, lifting a glass with all the stars in studio to Chef Randy, followed by a special performance by LeAnn Rimes, singing Throw My Arms Around the World, beautifully capturing the spirit of the evening.

Highlights and behind-the-scenes of the night can be seen at Project Angel Food’s website…and it’s still possible to donate by texting LOVE20 to 50155.   

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